Mike may be Rowe, but 'soft' is trouble
By The Associated Press
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Mike Rowe knew he needed a catchy name for his Web-site design company.
"Since my name is Mike Rowe, I thought it would be funny to add 'soft' to the end of it," said Rowe, a 17-year-old computer geek and 12th-grade student in Victoria, B.C.
As in, but not quite, Microsoft.
But the folks at the world's biggest software company are not amused. They've demanded that he give up his domain name.
Rowe registered the name in August. In November, he received a letter from Microsoft's Canadian lawyers, Smart & Biggar, informing him he was committing copyright infringement.
He was advised to transfer the name to the Redmond-based corporation.
"I didn't think they would get all their high-priced lawyers to come after me," Rowe said.
He wrote back asking to be compensated for giving up his name. Microsoft's lawyers offered him $10 in U.S. funds. Then he asked for $1,000.
On Thursday, he received a 25-page letter accusing him of trying to force Microsoft into giving him a large settlement.
"I never even thought of getting anything out of them," he said, adding that he asked for the $1,000 only because he was "sort of mad at them for only offering 10 bucks."
He said family and friends are backing him, and a lawyer has offered to advise him for free.
He's also keeping his sense of humor.
"It's not their name. It's my name. I just think it's kind of funny that they'd go after a 17-year-old," Rowe said.
Company spokesman Jim Desler said yesterday, "Microsoft has been in communication with Mr. Rowe in a good-faith effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. And we remain hopeful we can resolve this issue to everyone's satisfaction."